||A healthy economy combined with increased marketing efforts by agents created a positive business environment in 2004, according to the Spanish agents who took part in this year's Agency Survey on Spain.
|The total number of students placed by the 17 agencies in our survey was 10,207
Individual agencies placed between 80 and 6,000 students on language courses per year
Average business growth was 43 per cent
Just two agencies charged their clients a handling fee
The majority of agents said that business would continue to improve over the coming year
Host family accommodation was the most popular choice for 67 per cent of Spanish students.
The average length of stay for Spanish students was 3.5 weeks
On average, our agent respondents represented 55 schools in 9 countries
||Most popular courses
|1. UK 40%
2. Ireland 30%
3. Malta 9%
4. Spain 6%
5. USA 5%
5. Other 5%
7. France 3%
8. Canada 2%
||1. General 25%
2. Summer vacation 19%
2. Junior progs. 19%
2. Intensive 19%
5. Lang + work 8%
6. Business 4%
6. Others 4%
8. Acad/exam prep. 2%
|Reasons for language travel
|1. Studies at home 33%
2. Current work 27%
3. Studies overseas 18%
4. Other 13%
5. Pleasure 9%
||1. English 80%
2. Spanish 10%
3. French 6%
4. German 3%
5. Italian 0.5%
5. Japanese 0.5%
|How do agencies recruit students?
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Word of mouth 45%
Mail shots 9%
Advertising in press 4%
Seminars to students 2%
Other press 1%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 59%
Italian in Italy 29%
Crels NZ 6%
Education NZ 12%
English NZ 29%
English SA 0%
English UK 88%
British Council 94%
Following on from a trend seen in last year';s Agency Survey on Spain (see Language Travel Magazine, December 2004, pages 12-13), the 17 agencies that took part this year reported that business was good in 2004, with the market growing by 43 per cent overall. Only one agency reported a decrease in business, while the majority posted growth of various degrees and one agency said that their business had increased by 350 per cent on the previous year, which distorted the overall figure slightly. The overall average length of stay was down on 2003 figures, coming out at 3.5 weeks for 2004, compared with 5.1 weeks previously.
Language and destination trends
The English-speaking destinations of the UK (in pole position), Ireland and Malta were the most favoured by Spanish students, presumably with ease of getting to a destination and lower travel costs playing a big role in the decision-making process. Canada has decreased in popularity since our last survey, attracting just two per cent of clients compared with seven per cent in 2003. More agency clients 18 per cent were learning a language overseas in order to go on to further education in a foreign country, compared with the previous year when just 11 per cent of students gave this reason as their motivation. In contrast, the percentage of students planning on using their new language skills for study at home had decreased from 48 per cent to 33 per cent in 2004.
Student and course trends
The percentage of agency clients choosing to study on intensive language courses shot up in 2004, according to our respondents, with such courses accounting for 19 per cent of overall business compared with just four per cent in 2003. This perhaps echoes the trend of students learning a language for more serious educational aims as the number of students on general language courses dropped from 37 per cent in 2003 to 25 per cent. However, summer vacation programmes have also become more popular up 13 percentage points on the previous year suggesting growth in all sectors of the outgoing language travel market in Spain.
Agents reported that they principally relied on word-of-mouth recommendation, as well as their website, to attract new clients to their agency, with 75 per cent of clients found via these methods. In contrast, our previous survey showed that mail shots were the most popular method of client recruitment, attracting 38 per cent of business. This year, only nine per cent of agency business was generated this way. Individual agencies represented between three and 330 schools.
Forecasts for 2005 and beyond were positive from every agent who gave a response to this question. Predicted increases in business varied from between 10 and 40 per cent, with the majority of respondents pointing to Spain';s buoyant economy as being the principal driver of the market. One agency also said that they expected business to grow after an overhaul of their website, which now included multilingual pages.
In 2004 and the first half of 2005, the Spanish economy continued an upward trajectory, with GDP increasing by 3.1% in 2004, com- pared with an increase of 2.9% in 2003.
Employment growth rose from 2.5% in 2003 to 2.7% in 2004, while the annual average rate of inflation held stable.
Spain';s current high growth rate of economic activity has been largely fuelled by domestic spending and household demand. The depreciation of the euro in the first half of 2005 has also helped enhance the country';s exports.
Source: Banco de España
Spanish agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Canada: Global Village, various. In France: ELFE, Paris. In Germany: DID, various. In Ireland: Atlantic Language School, Galway; Centre of English Studies, Dublin; Cork English College, Cork; Cork Language Centre International, Cork; Emerald Cultural Institute, Dublin; English in Dublin, Dublin; Geos, Dublin; Language Centre of Ireland, Dublin; Linguaviva Centre, Dublin. In Italy: Torre di Babele, Rome. In Malta: EC English Language Centre, St Julians; IELS, Sliema. In South Africa: Cape Communication Centre, Cape Town; Good Hope Studies, Cape Town. In Spain: Don Quijote, various; Malaga Plus, Malaga; Proyecto Espanol, Alicante. In the UK: Anglolang, Scarborough; Cambridge Centre of English Studies, Cambridge; Chichester College, Chichester; Frances King, London; Hampstead School of English, London; Harven School of English, Woking; Oxford House College, London; London School of English, London; Plymouth Language School, Plymouth; Scanbrit, Bournemouth; Select English, Cambridge; Severnvale Academy, Shrewsbury; Sidmouth International, Sidmouth; St Giles, various; The International School, Exeter; Torbay Language Centre, Torquay.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in this survey: Ad Astra; Babel Idiomas; BEST Programs; British Summer; Educare Idiomas; Eurobridge International; Globus Idiomas; Grupo Mundo en Red; Interway; OISE Madrid; Quality Courses; Red Central; Spanish Institute Audio Gil; Study Global Spain; Viajes de Estudio de Lenguas Europeas (VELE).